8 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Outdoor Kitchen

An aerial view of an outdoor kitchen with a table and BBQ.

An outdoor kitchen is a great way to entertain friends and family. And when your outdoor areas are functional, you actually increase your home's living space. Like an indoor kitchen, the kitchen you build outside needs to be functional, safe, and nice to look at. If you avoid some of the common mistakes that people make with their outside spaces, you’ll end up with a great kitchen that’s easy to use and easy on the eyes.

1. Not Separating Hot From Cold

Make sure your cooling and cooking areas are separated. You don’t want your grill surface right next to your mini-fridge, for example. Keep the two areas apart and you’ll end up with a much safer design.

2. Not Providing Ventilation

There are lots of ways to design an outdoor kitchen. You can place an awning on top or enclose the space, build custom cabinetry to hide all the appliances or add built-in shelves. But no matter what you do, make sure you're providing ventilation. The cooking area in particular needs to be well-ventilated. Every appliance and electrical outlet will need some ventilation to prevent overheating. Make sure the cooking smoke has a place to go, or else you’ll end up making your outdoor kitchen unbearable to be in. Include exhaust fans and vent holes where needed. It’s also a good idea to install a hood for your grill or stove area, if possible.

3. Using the Wrong Appliances

A woman cooking in an outdoor kitchen.

Before you buy your appliances, check the specifications. You need outdoor-rated appliances for your outdoor kitchen. Appliances that aren’t rated for outdoor use should not be a part of your overall design.

4. Forgetting About Storage

Your outdoor kitchen won’t be as wonderful if you have to keep running inside your house to get the items you need to cook and serve food. Make sure to add some storage to your kitchen area. Consider an island that can add some extra counter or cutting space on top of storage space. A DIY kitchen island is a very practical outdoor addition.

5. Electricity

How would you like to build your own DIY outdoor kitchen, only to discover that you have no easy way to get electricity to that great new blender you bought? It isn’t difficult to add power to a new area of your home, particularly when it’s an outdoor area. But, electricity is a tricky thing to DIY, so consult with a professional before you decide to try it yourself.

6. Forgetting About Counter Space

An outdoor kitchen with a BBQ on a lake.

You know you need a place to eat in the outdoor kitchen, but it’s a common mistake to neglect the counter space. Don’t forget that you'll need a place to prepare your food and stack your ingredients. Always include counter space in your kitchen design.

7. Not Giving Yourself Room

When you’re looking at a blank space, it looks a lot bigger that it will feel like once you start using it. Remember that your outdoor kitchen needs to accommodate a cooking area, a food prep area, a place to eat the food and all the appliances and items you want to include in the design. It’s a very common DIY problem to designate a space that’s too small. You want to move around in your kitchen, after all, and working inside cramped area feels uncomfortable. Make your kitchen a place you actually want to spend time in, and make it roomy enough for you and your guests.

8. Framing With Wood

If you’re going to frame in your appliances and other outdoor kitchen features, use metal rather than wood. It’s true that wood is a great building material, but it’s not practical for this particular project. Wood can swell and shrink due to weather conditions, which means the framing around your appliances will be moving. This can create small changes in the way your kitchen fits together and put your appliances out of position, which you definitely don’t want.

Keep your kitchen area functional and plan it well, and you’ll end up with a space you can truly cherish. Avoid these common mistakes to end up with a near-perfect DIY project that you can be proud of. And when it’s all over, you’ll have a brand-new living space to enjoy.